Learn more about your cat’s claws

Did you know that cats are the only animals that walk directly on their claws, not on their paws? If you imagine a human, it would be as if we were walking on our fingertips. This is called digitigrade and it proves to be a very useful feature for moving at high speeds. So cat claws are particularly useful for moving at high speeds.

Cats in the home are not vindictive when they sharpen their claws on your beautiful furniture, nor do they actually. In fact, what they are doing is tearing the ragged edges of the pods from their claws by scratching.

The claws have layers of skin just like an onion; in fact, the claws are an extension of the cat’s fur. The outer layer of tissue is continually growing and needs to be removed to accommodate new growth, so you will often see pieces of the nail scattered over the area where the cat has been grooming.

They shed their claws throughout the year to expose new, sharp ones underneath. The claws not only serve to protect, but are also responsible for the delicate balance of the cat and incredible feats such as climbing, stretching, running and grooming.

It is not uncommon for cat owners to occasionally want to trim their cats’ claws. Claw trimming is only recommended if you have an indoor cat, as claws are your cat’s only defense along with its most versatile tool for survival. Not only that, scratching is a very normal activity and behavior for cats.

If you are going to trim your cat’s nails, you need to make sure you do it correctly. The most important thing is to avoid approaching “fast”. The quick is the hard pink tissue at the base of each claw. The nail itself is translucent, so you can see through it. Cutting the “fast” accidentally causes your cat pain and bleeding.

Specialty nail clippers are available at veterinarians or pet stores, but sharp human nail clippers work just as well. Be gentle with your cat and clip its nails when it is sleepy or relaxed.

It is recommended that you hold the clipper in a vertical position (up and down so that the claw is cut from the bottom up rather than through the nail). This position helps prevent splitting.

But if you feel uncomfortable in any way trimming your cat’s nails, your vet can do the work for you, just like a groomer.

In some countries people remove their cats’ nails for the sake of their furniture! Claws, both physically and psychologically, affect cats in important ways.

Removing the nails involved not only removing the claws, but also the first joint (the toes), so, in effect, it is like a series of amputations.

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